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Why has Pike footage been hidden for so long?

New footage of workers servicing a robot in the Pike River drift appears to show that going into the drift doesn’t pose the danger the Government and Solid Energy claimed, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.

“The Government must immediately release all Pike footage and images, and explain why it has kept the public and the families in the dark for so long.

“This new footage casts doubt over the Government’s reasons for blocking a manned re-entry of the drift.

“The sight of men moving confidently inside the drift with only breathing masks on suggests this isn’t the excessively dangerous situation National and Solid Energy portray it as. National claims sending people into the drift would unduly risk their lives. Yet, here is film of two men calmly working in the drift, taking their time to make an ad hoc water cover for a robot.

“The robot footage shows the drift is in good shape, with even the pipes largely undamaged by the explosions. There’s nothing in the footage to support National’s claim the drift could collapse.

“The fact that the robot overheats and emits smoke yet no explosion is triggered makes a lie of Nick Smith’s claim that the 98% methane atmosphere in the drift is highly flammable. In fact, as the scientifically literate Nick Smith surely knows, methane cannot explode in a nearly pure methane atmosphere with little oxygen.

“It is disturbing that such important footage, which undercuts the Government’s reasons for stopping a re-entry into Pike, has been kept from the public eye for so long.

“Why haven’t the families or the public seen this footage before now? For years, the families have been calling for all footage and pictures taken inside Pike River since the explosion to be released. Yet, the Government still hasn’t released that material, and we have to rely on leaks to find out the truth.

“We know, from written questions, that the Government holds 24,000 images and 265GB of footage related to Pike River. The inevitable question, now, is: what other important material is the Government keeping hidden? The families and the public deserve to be able to see it all,” says Andrew Little.